Impacts of climate change on wheat anthesis and fusarium ear blight in the UK

J.W. Madgwick, Jon S. West, R.P. White, M.A. Semenov, J.A. Townsend, J.A. Turner, Bruce D.L. Fitt

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Climate change will affect both growth of agricultural crops and diseases that attack them but there has been little work to study how its impacts on crop growth influence impacts on disease epidemics. This paper investigates how impacts of climate change on wheat anthesis date will influence impacts on fusarium ear blight in UK mainland arable areas. A wheat growth model was used for projections of anthesis dates, and a weather-based model was developed for use in projections of incidence of fusarium ear blight in the UK. Daily weather data, generated for 14 sites in arable areas of the UK for a baseline (1960–1990) scenario and for high and low CO2 emissions in the 2020s and 2050s, were used to project wheat anthesis dates and fusarium ear blight incidence for each site for each climate change scenario. Incidence of fusarium ear blight was related to rainfall during anthesis and temperature during the preceding 6 weeks. It was projected that, with climate change, wheat anthesis dates will be earlier and fusarium ear blight epidemics will be more severe, especially in southern England, by the 2050s. These projections, made by combining crop and disease models for different climate change scenarios, suggest that improved control of fusarium ear blight should be a high priority in industry and government strategies for adaptation to climate change to ensure food security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-131
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • climate change adaptation
  • crop-disease-climate models
  • food security
  • Fusarium head blight (Fusarium culmorum/F. graminearum
  • wheat growth model
  • weather-based disease forecast


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